About catch-up immunisation
Any immunisation given after the recommended age is a ‘catch up’ immunisation. Catch-up immunisations give patients their recommended vaccinations and help protect against disease by giving the best protection as fast as possible.
Children, young people and adults may miss scheduled immunisation for several reasons and need to start a catch-up immunisation schedule.
Vaccination providers should take every opportunity to review a person’s vaccination history and give them the appropriate vaccines, as needed.
The following patients who are eligible for National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccines can catch up on a range of free vaccines missed in childhood:
- all people under 20 years of age
- people aged 25 years and under who have missed human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination
- refugees and humanitarian entrants of any age.
The number and range of vaccines and doses that are provided free is different for people aged less than 10 years and those aged 10–19 years. Refugees and humanitarian entrants aged 20 years and over can also get certain vaccines for free if they did not receive them in childhood. See the table below for the vaccines that are eligible for NIP funded catch-up.
Free catch-up immunisations
The following catch-up vaccines are available free under the NIP for people who did not receive them as children. You can refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook for number of doses required and minimal intervals between doses
People under 10 years
Polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis B, meningococcal ACWY, Haemophilus influenzae type b (no catch up>5), pneumococcal (no catch up >5), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, meningococcal B (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged less than 2 years old)
People 10 to under 20 years
Polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
People 10 to 14 years
People 15 to 19 years
People Under 26 years
Refugees and humanitarian entrants aged 20 years and over
Polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, human papillomavirus (25 years and under)
If a person has not received all the NIP Schedule vaccines appropriate for their age, plan and document a catch-up schedule.
People 20 years of age and over (over 25 years for HPV) who have not received all vaccines may still benefit from a catch-up schedule. These are not funded under the NIP. State immunisation programs may fund some vaccines.
Contact your state and territory health department for help if required.
Assess vaccination history
Review your patient’s vaccination history and enter their information into the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) if no record exists.
Vaccination records may include the AIR, slips provided after school vaccinations, yellow vaccination records and practice records.
Check the patient’s received doses at the correct age and dosing intervals.
For refugees and other humanitarian entrants check if overseas immunisation records (written) are available.
Refugees and other humanitarian entrants may have received vaccinations through the visa application process or in Australian immigration detention. Check for documents from sources such as:
- the Departure Health Check – provided to Offshore Humanitarian entrants (voluntary process)
- Australian immigration detention health records.
The Department of Home Affairs provides a free translating service for Australian citizens and new migrants settling permanently in Australia.
Develop a catch-up schedule
Once you assess existing vaccination records and other relevant clinical information, develop a catch-up schedule and give the recommended catch-up vaccines.
Use the Australian Immunisation Handbook to plan a catch-up schedule. Information in the Handbook includes:
- worksheets and tables to help you plan a catch-up schedule
- minimum age for first doses of vaccines in young children
- number of doses a person should have had if they were on schedule
- minimum intervals between doses
- online catch-up calculator for children aged under 10 years
- Use the catch-up calculator with guidance from the Australian Immunisation Handbook.
Report vaccines given to the Australian Immunisation Register.